It is rare that a cell manages to degenerate into cancer, because to survive with abnormalities the cell needs to develop a set of remarkable biological skills (they are often called “the hallmarks of cancer”).
The 6 main traits/hallmarks of cancer cells are:
- They grow/multiply without stop
This because cancer cells are not sensitive to the cell’s mechanisms to stop growth.
- They have “growth autonomy”
Healthy cells rely on signals from others to grow, while cancer cells stimulate their own growth.
- They are resistant to death
When a cell develops genetic abnormalities it triggers cellular mechanisms that push it into “suicide”. However, cancerous cells are resistant to this command/push.
- They divide/growth indefinitely
- They can stimulate the growth of new blood vessels
These are used to supply nutrients/feed the fast dividing cancer cells.
- They have the ability to move within the body Allowing the cancer to form metastases and invade remote tissues and organs.
Some people have an increased risk of developing cancer because they carry a , which is known to be associated to a specific type of cancer.
For example, families where closely related women (mother, daughters, sisters) develop breast cancer normally carry mutations in the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 gene.